The Middle Ages is a periodisation of European history, encompassing the period from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century.

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What were the advantages and disadvantages of Mongolian cavalry (compared to European cavalry)?

My understanding is that Mongolian cavalry fought mainly with bows and arrows, that is, missile weapons, in "hit and run" style, while European cavalry fought mainly with "contact" weapons such as ...
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350 views

Were the problems Fibonacci solved in his work “Flos” posed specifically for him?

According to Wikipedia, Fibonacci wrote "Flos", a work which contained solutions to problems posed by Johannes of Palermo. Did Johannes pose a challenge to all European mathematicians of the time, or ...
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449 views

Eastern and Southern Europe in the medieval time period?

What were Eastern and Southern Europe like in the medieval period? Did Southern and Eastern Europe have knights and castles like Western Europe? I've never heard for example of Italian knights in the ...
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102 views

Who besieged Karl IV at Siena?

According to Wikipedia article about the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV: His second journey to Italy took place in 1368, when he had a meeting with Pope Urban VI at Viterbo, was besieged in his ...
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659 views

How “religious” was the average person in the Middle Ages?

During Europe in the Middle Ages, how religious was the "average Joe"? Looking at the large scale politics of the time it seems religion was a major part of the elites' lives, with treaties with the ...
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233 views

Who gave Charles the Bold his nickname and why?

I am talking about the Duke of Burgundy here. Wikipedia has a tantalizing footnote (n. 1): Charles le Téméraire is more accurately translated in English as "the Rash", but the English speaking ...
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Status of merchants in feudal Europe

What was the status of merchants during the feudal age in Europe? Did they, like peasants, serve/have allegiance to certain land owning lord? If yes, do they have different status or privileges from ...
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254 views

Changing troops in first line during battle

I remember Caesar in De Bello Gallico mentioning Romans changing fighting/resting troops in some siege defense while Celtic attackers didn't do this and lost the battle because of it. This is just one ...
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139 views

How widespread were major dynasties which did not follow agnatic succession or male primogeniture?

Agnatic succession - as far as monarchic rule - is a way of determining the rules for the next monarch by declaring the eldest surviving child of the current monarch as the heir (typically, male child ...
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195 views

Were women banned from entering the castle of Trakai?

According to legend, Vytautas the Great banned women from entering the Trakai Island Castle under penalty of death. I read it in Russian, it is called "The Horse of knyaz Vytautas". The plot is ...
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85 views

Are Russian birch bark manuscripts fake?

There are more than a 1000 birch bark manuscripts found in Novgorod and other Russian cities in last 50 years. Many of them stayed in the soil for more than 700 years. In the same time, no special ...
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155 views

What is the ancestry of the Robertians, progenitors of the Bourbon dynasty?

The countries Spain and Luxembourg are currently ruled by kings from the House of Bourbon, so I thought I'd try to trace back their (patrilineal) ancestry as far as possible. Well, the Bourbons are ...
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193 views

Organisation of mercenaries

In the War of the roses how were mercenary units organised and administrated? Were they paid per lance, archer, knight etc? Would there be a King's representative who would go the mercenary ...
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6answers
2k views

Which arm was the shield held in?

I'm asking a question elsewhere and I'm sure I've heard some historical text to back this up as well as sound reasoning: you want your strongest arm to stop yourself from getting killed by using a ...
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3answers
391 views

How were shields fastened to soldiers' backs?

I'm researching armor (from all time periods, though most of my reference is from the medieval era) and I found there's little reference for how soldiers traveled with shields. Some shields have a ...
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2answers
250 views

Was it not possible to exploit the gaps between each pre-modern melee formation?

Soldiers seem to be split into their respective companies or battalions but on the battlefield instead of presenting a complete front line they split up and leave gaps in the line between each ...
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287 views

Did anyone ever win a kingdom through single combat without a backing army or blood tie to the throne?

I've read of instances where historians suggest that single combat of champions has been used to preempt wholesale slaughter on the battlefield; and I think I've read instances where blood relatives ...
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273 views

How did cadet branches start?

Apologies if the History Stackexchange is the wrong place for this question but: In what ways could a cadet branch come into life? Why would a younger sibling in a royal or noble house start his own ...
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188 views

Until 1600, was it legal to counterfeit money?

Forging money or currency is more often called counterfeiting and, as is well known, the counterfeiting of money is usually attacked aggressively by today's governments. But, generally speaking, was ...
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647 views

Could medieval European merchants travel through the Islamic world?

I've heard that the Islamic world was closed to European merchants in the Middle Ages. Is this true? If so, when did it close and when did it open again?
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175 views

Why did serfdom disappear gradually in England?

Why did serfdom gradually die out in England? Why was its abolition not the locus of explosive and acute social conflict, like in Russia or France?
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165 views

When the term “president” was used the first time?

Wikipedia mentions that the term was used in Oxford and Cambridge universities at least in 1464. But I wonder whether the title was used somewhere before. Was is used under Ancient Rome?
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148 views

Were there prominent secular philosophers in the European middle ages? If so, who?

I've only done a small amount of reading on the middle ages, and on the history of Western philosophy, but from what I can glean education and religion were tightly coupled during the period, so most ...
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127 views

'Sub rosa' council meetings

Wiktionary's etymology of the term sub rosa reads: The rose's connotation for secrecy dates back to Greek mythology. Aphrodite gave a rose to her son Eros, the god of love; he, in turn, gave it to ...
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246 views

Why were even royals in medieval europe living without running water and sewerage?

History books say that after the fall of Rome, 'we' lost our understanding of their technology. But aqueducts, lots of Rome's buildings etc were still standing, monasteries had washing and toilet ...
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228 views

What exactly were currours, and what were they used for?

In researching this question on Medieval light cavalry, I came across this reference to "currours" in Wikipedia, with no link: Many countries developed their own styles of light cavalry, such as ...
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484 views

How did commoners in late medieval to early modern Europe learn to read?

Literacy in the early Middle Ages was very low, but as I recall, by the time of Reformation quite a lot of commoners could read. Even if they were not very good in reading and writing, by the 17th ...
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393 views

Did the Moors and Arabs, “Muslims,” who invaded Europe, ie “Spain,” help the evolution of civilizations of Europe?

Were the Muslims viewed as barbarians similar to the Mongols, and as a people who only specialized in war? Or, were Muslims advanced enough to teach Europe scientific advancements? Did they invent any ...
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88 views

Linen doublets around 1380-1410, middle and eastern Europe

Most people agree that doublets and hose were made with wool on the outside and linen on the inside. Are there any evidence that confirm such belief? Any guild documents, findings, etc? Do we have ...
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298 views

Was either side legally in the right in the Hundred Years War?

Legalistically speaking which side was right in the Hundred Years War. My view is that the Salic law combined with the principle that nobody can transmit a right greater than he himself can possess ...
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1answer
152 views

Baldwin IV, the Leper King

Baldwin IV was crowned King of Jerusalem, from 1174 until his death in 1186 at the ripe old age of 24. As a child, his tutor, William of Tyre, discovered he had leprosy. Understanding that he was the ...
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420 views

Was there any mention in historical articles regarding Joan of Arc's physical appearance?

Modern media seems to portray Joan of Arc as a very attractive girl. I don't quite buy this interpretation of her as it would also suggest plenty of suitors and could be counter productive in a camp ...
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80 views

What would be used to write things in 15c in Europe

What sort of pens/quills would be used? Would paper, cover and bindings be readily available?
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157 views

What was the average percentage of taxes in Europe during the Middle Ages? [closed]

I've found a lot about what kinds of taxes existed in the Middle Ages, but couldn't find a source pointing to specific percentages (apart from the tithe, but I don't know how thoroughly it was ...
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227 views

What was the fighting style & equipment of troops in Eastern Europe & the Baltics in the 13th Century?

I want to know about fighting styles and equipment of fighting men roughly around 13th century in the Baltic/Slavic area of Europe. I'd particularly like to find out about cultures that were prominent ...
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379 views

Medieval wall and garment patterns

To my mind Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen (1924) is a work of absolute genius, perhaps surpassing even Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) in movie history. It is very rich, beautiful, yes tragic, and ...
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250 views

How was food produced in Europe/Germany prior to the industrial revolution?

I'd appreciate any pointer to books or other medias that cover the production of food prior to the industrial revolution (with the regional focus being in Europe or even more narrowly in ...
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124 views

Is there historical evidence linking medieval forest clearences in Europe with the Medieval Warm Period?

The Medieval Warm Period was marked by a significant increase in average temperatures throughout Europe from around the mid-10th century to around the mid-13th century. This allowed an expansion of ...
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1answer
192 views

Can the University of Bologna be considered the first university in the world?

There are usually two different opinions: the first group considers the University of Bolgona to be officially the first one, some others instead claim that there might have been other groups of ...
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8answers
833 views

What caused the turning point in Hundred Years' War?

At school I have learned that the English had upper hand in the war until Joan of Arc convinced the French king to give an army under her command to besiege Orléans and since then, the French forced ...
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5answers
315 views

What name is taken if a man marries into a noble house?

In regards to marrying into noble houses, if a noble man marries a noble woman from a different house, I would assume one of two things happens: 1. The woman takes the man's name and the two houses ...
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425 views

Middle east and North africa population during the high middle ages

I am looking for this information everywhere, but I can't seem to find the population of anyone else but the Europeans during the middle ages. We know that the population of the European countries ...
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64 views

Where can I find the text of “Ecerinis”?

This is a play from the 14th century (reportedly "the first secular tragedy written since Roman times") relating the tale of Ezzelino da Romano and written by one Albertino Mussato. Is there an online ...
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107 views

When was King Alfred first called 'Alfred the Great'?

In his book on Alfred the Great, historian Justin Pollard notes that it was in the 16th century that King Alfred was first called 'Alfred the Great' - no reference, no note, no bibliographical text ...
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How effective were longbow archers against plate-armored infantry?

It is quite common knowledge that longbows most likely did not penetrate the plate armor worn by the French chevaliers at Poitiers and Agincourt. However, how effective were these longbows in ...
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1answer
99 views

Why was the Håndfæstning forced on Erik V of Denmark?

Håndfæstning was the name for charters forced upon the Scandinavian kings by their nobility, not unlike Magna Carta in Britain. Erik V of Denmark was the first to sign such a document. What were the ...
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1answer
107 views

Sieges: Average Attacker to Defender Ratio in Middle Ages

I have read that attackers should outnumber defenders, 20 to 1 or better 50-100 to 1 in sieges in a book about conquest of İstanbul, though I can not find its reference right now. I remember that this ...
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1answer
195 views

What was the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Carolingian emperors?

Charlemagne was crowned by the pope in the year 800. But was it Charlemagne's choice, or was he compelled to do so? Having conquered his lands, couldn't he just crown himself emperor? Moreover, did ...
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185 views

Wales and Ireland in medieval times

There is a very interesting article on wikipedia on Welsh Law. Though it defines the structure of the Court in Wales in the late medieval period, it says nothing of the status of other nobles and ...
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How were the borders of the Holy Roman Empire established?

We all know that the Holy Roman Empire was a collection of minor Germanic states in the Medieval and Renaissance Europe. Wikipedia stated that: The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of ...